Buyang language

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Native toChina
EthnicityBuyang people
Native speakers
1,500 (1997–2000)[2]
  • Kra
    • Yang–Biao
      • Buyang
Language codes
ISO 639-3Variously:
yzg – E'ma Buyang
yln – Langnian Buyang
enc – En
yrn – Yalang (Yerong)
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Buyang (Chinese: 布央语) is a Kra language spoken in Guangnan and Funing counties, Yunnan Province, China by the Buyang people.[4] It is important to the reconstruction of the hypothetical macrofamily Austro-Tai as it retains the disyllabic roots characteristic of Austronesian languages. Examples are /matɛ́/ "to die", /matá/ "eye", /qaðù/ "head", and /maðû/ "eight". (See Austro-Tai for proposed connections.)

The Buyang language was only discovered in 1990 by Chinese linguist Liang Min. In 1999, a doctoral dissertation and book was published for Buyang. The book has also recently been translated into English.

Many speakers of Buyang are also fluent in Zhuang.[5]


The Buyang (布央) dialect cluster is spoken by a total of around 2,000 people living mostly in the Gula (谷拉) River valley of southeastern Yunnan Province, China. It is spoken in at least 8 villages[6] in Gula Township 谷拉乡, Funing County 富宁县, Wenshan Zhuang–Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan, China. Buyang is divided into the following groups:[5]

  • Langjia 郎架 is spoken in Langjia 郎架, Funing County 富宁县, Yunnan along the Guangxi border. It is split by Ethnologue into Langnian Buyang (ISO 639-3: yln) and E'ma Buyang (ISO 639-3: yzg). The name Langjia comes from Zhuang [laːŋ˧˥tɕaːi˧˩], which means "dried bamboo shoot."[7]
  • Ecun 峨村 is spoken in Ecun 峨村, Funing County 富宁县, Yunnan along the Guangxi border.
  • Yalang 雅郎, also called Yalhong, is spoken in Rongtun 荣屯 (near Longhe Township 龙合乡), Napo County 那坡, Guangxi. It is listed in Ethnologue as Yerong 耶容 (ISO 639-3: yrn).
  • Paha 巴哈 is considered a separate language by Weera Ostapirat (2000). It is spoken in Yangliancun 央连村 (jaaŋ˨˦ lɛŋ˧˩ in Zhuang), Diyu Township 底于乡 and Anshecun 安舍村, Bada Township 八达乡, which are both in Guangnan County 广南, Yunnan. It is listed in Ethnologue as Baha Buyang (ISO 639-3: yha).

Weera Ostapirat (2000) splits the Buyang language into two branches:[6]

  • North (Buyang Proper): Ecun and Langjia
  • South: Yalang (Yalhong)

Ostapirat also classifies Buyang and Qabiao together as Eastern Kra, while Paha is classified as Central Kra. Together, the two branches form one of the two primary Kra branches, namely Central-East Kra. The En language has also been recently included in Eastern Kra (also called Yang–Biao, from [Bu]yang–[Pu]biao).

Li (2010) divides the Buyang language as follows:[7]


  • The Funing County dialects of Ecun 峨村,[8] Dugan 度干,[9] Zhelong 者龙,[10] Nada 那达,[11] Longna 龙纳,[12] Maguan 马贯,[13] Langjia 郎架,[14] and Nianlang 念郎.[15] These villages are known collectively as Buyang Bazhai 布央八寨, or "the eight Buyang villages." Together, they make up the largest group of Buyang speakers, numbering about 1,000 speakers collectively. Li further splits the Funing County Buyang dialects into 3 groups (listed from north to south):
    • Maguan 马贯
    • Ecun 峨村, Dugan 度干, Zhelong 者龙, Nada 那达, Longna 龙纳
    • Langjia 郎架, Nianlang 念郎
  • Central Pohe Township 坡荷乡, Napo County, western Guangxi. More than 300 speakers reside in Rongtun 荣屯村 and Gonghe 共合村 villages, while over 100 live in Shanhe 善合, Yong'an 永安, and Guoba 果巴 villages; also in Renhe village 仁合村. 400 speakers total.

Western (Paha)

  • In Guangnan County, Yanglian[16] has around 500 Paha speakers, and Anshe only has about 100 speakers left. 600 speakers total.

Languages closely related to Buyang include Qabiao, En, and also Paha if considered a separate language.


Diachronic evolution of consonants[edit]

Pre-Buyang, the stage in the evolution of the language that can be reconstructed from internal evidence, appears to have had a slightly different phonemic inventory than the modern dialects: a voiced stop *ɢ paired with *q,[17] as well as voiced *ɦ alongside *h,[18] and a pair of sibilants *s, *z.[19] In addition, it doesn't appear to have had a series of aspirated consonants, a condition still found in the Ecun dialect.[20] Thus reconstructed pre-Buyang is more similar in its phonemic inventory to reconstructed Proto-Austronesian than its any modern dialect of Buyang.


  1. ^ David Holm : Killing a Buffalo for the Ancestors. Southeast Asia Publications, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, 2003. p. 15, fn. 36
  2. ^ E'ma Buyang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Langnian Buyang at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    En at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Yalang (Yerong) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Buyang". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Raymond G. Gordon Jr., ed. 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th edition. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
  5. ^ a b Diller, Anthony, Jerold A. Edmondson, and Yongxian Luo ed. The Tai–Kadai Languages. Routledge Language Family Series. Psychology Press, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Ostapirat, Weera (2000). "Proto-Kra". Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 23 (1): 1-251
  7. ^ a b Li Jinfang and Luo Yongxian. The Buyang language of South China: grammatical notes, glossary, texts and translations. Pacific Linguistics Publishers, Australian National University, 2010.
  8. ^ "富宁县谷拉乡峨村峨村". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  9. ^ "富宁县谷拉乡峨村度干". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  10. ^ "富宁县谷拉乡峨村者龙". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  11. ^ "富宁县谷拉乡峨村那达". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  12. ^ "富宁县谷拉乡峨村龙纳". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  13. ^ "富宁县谷拉乡马贯马贯". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  14. ^ "富宁县谷拉乡龙色郎架". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  15. ^ "富宁县谷拉乡谷桃念楞". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  16. ^ "广南县底圩乡普龙村民委员会央联自然村". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  17. ^ "the ancient Buyang language must have had a voiced stop *G contrasting to *q. The Duolo dialect of Gelao, a language related to Buyang, now still has ... G." (Li & Zhou, p. 116, § 2)
  18. ^ "Ancient Buyang had ... *ɦ." (Li & Zhou, p. 125, § 4)
  19. ^ "Ancient Buyang had a contrastive pair of voiceless and voiced ... *s, *z, which are very common in modern Ge–Yang" (Li & Zhou, p. 124, § 4)
  20. ^ "Ancient Buyang didn't have any aspirated consonants. Later, ... aspirated consonants were created in some dialects, but in Ecun dialect, no aspirated consonants appeared at all." (Li & Zhou, p. 132, § 8)


  • Li Jinfang. 1999. Studies on the Buyang Language [布央语研究]. Beijing: Central University for Nationalities Press.
  • Li, J., & Luo, Y. (2006). Notes on Paha Buyang. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area, Vol. 29, No. 1, p. 1-40.
  • Liang Min. (1990). The Buyang Language, Kadai 2:13-21.

Further reading[edit]

  • Li, J., & Zhou, G. (1998). Diachronic evolution of initial consonants in Buyang. MON-KHMER STUDIES 28:115-135. (pdf)
  • Mo Haiwen [莫海文] (2016). A reference grammar of Rongtun Buyang [荣屯布央语参考语法]. Beijing: China Social Sciences Academy Press [中国社会科学出版社]. ISBN 9787516175347
  • Sagart, Laurent. 2018. OC *-r in early Chinese loans to Bùyāng, and related issues. Old Chinese and friends, Apr 2018, Jena, Germany.

External links[edit]